A mountain lion, or pair of lions, that have been seen and photographed in Red Lodge for several days are being monitored to ensure residents are safe and that the cougars eventually leave town.
“We are continuing to monitor and track it to make sure it stays out of trouble,” said Bob Gibson, Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks information officer in Billings. “It doesn’t seem to want to move on.”
The situation could be worsened by the fact that Red Lodge is home to wild turkeys and whitetail deer, which are also cougar food.
“The big problem in Red Lodge is people are feeding deer and turkeys out their back door,” Gibson said.
Feeding wildlife is against the law in Montana.
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“If we could get the prey out of the way the predators would move on,” he added. “The same thing goes for bears, too.”
A cougar that moved into a neighborhood near the Montana Capitol in Helena on May 22 was killed by FWP enforcement out of concerns for human safety. Montana does not capture and relocate lions. Earlier in May a grizzly bear was photographed walking down a subdivision road west of town, and a moose was videoed walking downtown.
Some Red Lodge residents have expressed concerns about the safety of their children while others have asked the department to let the big cats live, Gibson said. Ideally the lions will leave on their own or the department will haze them out of town, he added.
Young lions strike off to establish their own territory and will sometimes wander long distances to avoid other cougars.